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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Stalled

With the legislature heading home for Easter break, progress on many issues remains slow. The bonding bill is still in limbo, although there is progress and there is sure to be an agreement before too long. What I find to be more interesting is the fact that the budget resolution is nowhere to be seen.

The budget resolution sets the total amount of the state's budget. It provides the starting point for the negotiations as to how to divide the money among the various state agencies. It's the first step in the long budget process.

However, it hasn't been passed yet. The House was supposed to take it up yesterday, but it was pulled at the last minute because the votes weren't there. Not only is Dan Dorman looking for a larger budget than Speaker Sviggum and House leadership want, but rumor has it Rep. Ron Erhardt won't go along either. If those two switched and all the Democrats voted in a block, that would be 68-66 in favor of the higher budget, and that just wouldn't do. It's unlikely that all the Democrats would vote for a larger budget, however, so that probably means that even more Republicans are flaking off. In any case, the vote is too close, so Sviggum couldn't risk bringing it up.

So now what happens? Unless Sviggum can keep his caucus in line, it looks like the budget will include more money for education and other things. It's a long way from the 81-53 advantage Republicans used to have.

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